Educational technology tips for teachers, librarians and schools.

15 Educational Technology Definitions You Should Know

15 Educational Technology Definitions You Should Know

By Jessica Sanders

less prep time, assessmentsIt seems like every day there’s a new educational buzzword floating around between your fellow teachers.

With so much on your plate at all times, it’s hard to keep up with what they all mean.

Use this list as your personal edtech buzzwords guide so you’ll know what to say next time someone’s talking about using MOOCs in their classroom.

Terms are in alphabetical order for your convenience. 

More: 8 Undeniable Traits of the 21st Century Teacher

1:1 Classroom: A 1:1 classroom provides each student with their own device, allowing learning to be more individualized and independent.

Resource: 5 Steps to Implement a Successful 1:1 Teaching Environment

Adaptive learning: The use of technology—computer or online system—to modify the learning experience and materials based on students’ performance. Many popular edtech tools use this as a way of naturally progressing students along a learning path.

Resource: Adaptive Learning Technology: What It Is, Why It Matters 

Asynchronous learning: Student-centered learning style that gives students access to assignments and necessary resources online, and includes chat and videoconferencing. The benefit: You don’t need to be in the same room to facilitate the learning. This is often referred to as “e-learning.”

Resource: Asynchronous E-Learning vs. Synchronous E-Learning

Blended learning: The technique of using both online and offline resources to facilitate learning, in and out of the classroom. Many teachers who are new to technology have found this to be a valuable way of bringing engaging opportunities into the classroom without spending a lot of money on tools and resources.

Resource: 10 Benefits of Teaching in a Blended Classroom

Competency-based learning: Used in teaching concrete skills, rather than abstract concepts, competency-based learning provides students with flexibility in how credit can be earned for learning and mastering new skills. “By enabling students to master skills at their own pace, competency-based learning systems help to save both time and money.” – U.S. Department of Education

Resource: 3 Key Characteristics of Competency-Based Learning

Course management system (CMS): A tool that allows teachers and students to organize online resources and documents. It can also facilitate homework submissions, the class calendar and even grading. Google Classroom is one of the most popular, (and free) CMSs available to K-12 teachers.

Resource: The Google Classroom Quick-Start Guide

Differentiated learning: The method of tailoring instruction, resources, assignments and projects for each student. This differs from personalized learning in that you cater certain aspects of classroom time or a lesson to each individual rather than connecting an entire learning program with students’ passions and aspirations. Check out this great breakdown from TeachThought for a full list of differences.

Resource: 10 Ways to Differentiate Instruction With Technology

Digital storytelling: The act of combining narrative with digital content, i.e. music, video and sound, to create a short movie. These movies can be interactive and used to portray specific concepts students are learning about.

Resource: 9 Steps to Use Digital Storytelling in the Classroom

 EdTech: Short-hand for educational technology, this term refers to any tech-based program that’s used for learning, in and out of the classroom, including apps, software, videos and more.

Resource: 20 Awesome Ways to Use Technology in the Classroom Tomorrow

Flipped classroom: A pedagogical model that flips the traditional method of learning: students watch video lectures and review materials at home before putting their knowledge to the test in the classroom with projects, discussions and group work. 

Resource: The Teacher’s Guide to Flipped Classrooms

Gamification: The use of game-playing elements in learning, such as point earning, leveling up, competition with others, and rules of play. 

Resource: 12 Educational Games to Boost Productivity

MOOC: This stands for Massive Open Online Course. An MOOC is available to large numbers of people, without any cost, via the Internet. Some of the most popular MOOC websites include,, and, among many others.

Resource: The Future of MOOCs in the Classroom

Open educational resources: Openly licensed and freely accessible documents and media that can be used in teaching, research and assessing.

Resource: 7 Things You Should Know About Open Educational Resources

Personalized learning: An approach to learning that allows you to individualize learning for students based on their needs, preferences and interests. Many educators believe this is the future of learning.

Resource: 10 Best Apps for Personalized Learning

Virtual classroom: An online learning space, often facilitated through a web- or software-based portal. The learning in this case is usually still synchronous, meaning teacher and students are engaging with one another at the same time.

Resource: 5 Teaching Techniques for the Virtual Classroom

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15 Educational Technology Definitions You Should Know

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